F1 Winter Break
Massa's task at Interlagos
Massa's task at Interlagos
Posted By:   |  21 Oct 2008   |  6:44 pm GMT  |  8 comments

Felipe Massa’s task in Brazil is clear; do what he has done the last two seasons and dominate the race. He looks like he has his head down a bit now, after being outpaced not only by Hamilton but also by Raikkonen in China. However he’s amazing at Interlagos and will no doubt be inspired by his home crowd, but there will be a bitterness about the experience too and this could really undermine his weekend. It’s a psychological issue and I’ll be watching very closely to see how he deals with it.

Massa knows that there is a very real possibility that this will be his only chance to win the world championship. You never know when a chance is going to come and you have to take it when it does. Robert Kubica has been making a similar point to BMW recently, annoyed that they didn’t pursue this year’s title.  

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Given he's got a Ferrari contract in his back pocket until the end of the 2010 season, I'd say he's still got a few potential chances to win it even if it doesn't happen this year. Ferrari have been at the top of the sport for a decade, and it's hard to see them overnight losing that position, although that's not to say it couldn't or wouldn't happen.

But what's more worrying for Massa is the fact that he won't neccessarily get another year where his Ferrari teammate is so poor. It's a slightly harsh comparison, but this year is a little like Eddie Irvine trying to claim the championship in 1999 - he did a good enough job, but you could see it was a slightly anomalous result with no Schumacher and Mclaren self-destructing every other weekend.

I think Kubica has good reason to be annoyed - he had a genuine chance, mostly through his consistency and Mclaren/Ferrari/Massa/Hamilton screwing up a few times each, but BMW wanted to focus on next year. That's ok if they take another step forward, but Kubica knows that whereas it's unlikely Ferrari will lose their way from one year to the next, it's not as guaranteed that a team with the inexperience of challenging for championships (such as BMW) will continue to make progress in a linear way.


Massa would have had the title wrapped up this year but for the blow up in Hungary and gaffes by the team. He's had some poor races, but not made embarrassingly howling errors like Lewis in Canada and Japan.

The WDC will be won by the team that has produced the most reliable car/team performance, rather than by either Massa or Lewis producing a great championship-deserving season.

The season might have been close, but only because of the errors that the drivers and teams have made - rather than because the top drivers have produced great races.

Massa now has nothing to lose, so he should go to Brazil and enjoy himself.

Ferrari MUST fuel Kimi light to get him on pole in the hope that the team can psyche Lewis out as much as possible. It was a mistake in Japan to qualify behind Lewis as they just allowed him an easy start and an easy race.


James, have greatly enjoyed your work over the years and hope that the BBC will see sense and give you a contract for next season. If they don't, I hope you find another supporter facing role in F1.


Hi James - sorry to post off-topic but I was wondering if you know anything about the FIA trying to prevent the BBC from taking your colleague Martin Brundle on board as a commentator next year?


Welcome to the world of F1 blogging by the way 🙂


Massa's problem looking to the future is this:

* He's unlikely to have another season where his team-mate (be it Raikkonen, Alonso or Vettel) so badly underperforms

* He's unlikely to have another season where his main non-Ferrari rival makes so mistakes, and where his rival's team only fields one competitive car

* He's unlikely to have another season where two of the drivers more talented than him (Alonso, Kubica) are in cars that can't beat his

He's a nice guy and he's improved so much since his early Sauber days made him a joke. But he's only WDC material when a LOT of other people underperform - and you only get a chance like that once in your career.


Andy - same goes for Lewis? Can he beat Alonso or Kubica without them or their teams making lots of mistakes?

Can Lewis develop the Macca next year when the rules change .... Macca could well struggle.

So perhaps this is Lewis' best chance as well.



"Massa would have had the title wrapped up this year but for the blow up in Hungary and gaffes by the team. He’s had some poor races, but not made embarrassingly howling errors like Lewis in Canada and Japan."

Surely you could not have forgotten this year's Silverstone? It's a surprise, really, how bad the Ferraris (or their drivers) have been in the wet; recall last year's Fuji too.


Hey Hircus

Actually, I don’t think Silverstone was bad for Massa in the way people claim. As TK has pointed out


… Ferrari have had ride height and tyre problems all year and for Massa to keep going (even with all the spins) is a credit to his skill in getting the car back on track and keeping it going. He also, in the wet, won in Spa when other drivers made mistakes. Perversely, Lewis made a mistake in Monaco in hitting the wall but his pit stop came at the right time and he lucked into a win I the wet.

But I agree with you that fundamentally the Ferraris struggle in the wet. Think Ferrari have let Massa down. Massa hasn’t been fantastic all year, but the errors have come from the team rather than him – whereas with Lewis the errors have been down to the driver rather than the team.


Thanks for your comments. I'm on a plane tonight to Sao Paolo and will post some insights into what's going on throughout the weekend. It's going to be a tense few days and the drama is always made greater by the claustrophobic paddock at Interlagos -everyone is on top of each other in stark contrast to Shanghai where on team's office can be half a mile away from another!

Keep an eye on the blog through the winter too.

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